Trustees Honor Retiring Faculty Members Johnson, Martin

Story posted May 18, 2005

Retiring faculty members R. Wells Johnson and T. Penny Martin were honored by the Bowdoin Board of Trustees during their May 12-14 visit on campus.

Wells Johnson
Retiring Math Professor Wells Johnson.

R. Wells Johnson, Bowdoin’s Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics, is retiring after 41 years of teaching, research, and distinguished service to the College. Johnson thrice chaired the Department of Mathematics, and in 1975 was recognized nationally when he was selected as one of the Outstanding Educators of America.

His research areas include algebraic number theory and Diophantine equations, cyclotomic fields, irregular primes, and Bermoulli numbers, among others.

Johnson’s judgment and quiet leadership have been much in demand on committees governing faculty and College affairs. Among the committees upon which he has served or chaired: the Faculty Affairs Committee; Budget Priorities Committee; Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee; and the Search Committees for President and Dean of Students. Johnson also served as faculty representative to the Board of Overseers and the Board of Trustees.

A classically trained pianist, Johnson was a favorite performer at the Bowdoin Faculty Recitals that took place on campus during the ‘60s and ‘70s – often performing duets with fellow Math Department professor Dick Chittim.

For these, and the many contributions he has made to the College, Johnson received the 34th annual Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff in 1997.

Penny Martin
Retiring Education Chair Penny Martin.

T. Penny Martin is retiring after 17 years in the Department of Education. For much of her tenure, Martin not only chaired the department – she was the department. Under her outstanding leadership, the one-person program expanded to include more faculty members and a rigorous curriculum attuned to the changing needs of teachers, students, and schools.

Martin has been a thoroughly engaged professor who loves students and teaching. In a 2003 profile in The Bowdoin Orient,” Martin said: “I love the chance to work with talented, eager, bright students who will one day make a difference.”

Martin’s research on women educators -- and the educational challenges women face -- has won her national attention. In 1987, Martin published “The Sound of Our Own Voices: Women’s Study Clubs, 1860-1910,” (Beacon Press), which chronicled the early history of women’s reading clubs.

Other research areas include her study of Folly Cove Designers, a group of self-taught craftswomen in Gloucester, Mass., who between 1940-1970 won national acclaim for their block prints on fabric.

Martin leaves Bowdoin with a legacy that includes the recent development of an additional education minor – Education Studies – which recognizes a growing interest in the scholarship and study of issues in education.

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